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Rec Sports Spotlight: Central Carroll dominated playoff tourney to finish unbeaten this fall

Tracy Kent has ended her youth field hockey coaching career on a high note.

About a month ago, her Central Carroll Warriors girls finished an unbeaten season by beating Essex-Sparrows Point to win the Maryland Youth Field Hockey League’s 7th/8th grade division title. It had been a long time between drinks of water for Kent, who was the team’s head coach for seven years and assistant for another.


The Warriors had won the league’s 3rd/4th grade championship five years before but had drawn a blank since.

Last year was frustrating because her squad whiffed in the league championship tournament despite losing only once during the regular season. Even though their team’s outstanding 2017 season ended in the postseason semifinals, its coach didn’t drive it to go all the way this time.


“I just wanted them to get better at field hockey, to learn and have fun,” Kent said. “If you do that, the wins will come.”

But this year, she had only seven returners. And three of her new players had never played field hockey before. Yet Kent and her assistant coaches Beth Pruitt and Brenna Taylor put together a team that scored 64 goals and allowed only four in its 12 games — all wins.

Kent attributes much of that success to the fact she had the raw material, exactly what it was when it came to field hockey refinement.

“Honestly, we didn’t have the stick skills a lot of teams had, but I would put our girls up against any team,” Kent said. “They were fast, athletic and tough. And they had stamina.”

Their athleticism gave them the edge on turf fields, where most of their games were played.

She got a notion of what her team could do right off the bat — or stick. It opened its season against a strong Reisterstown team.

“We were on turf, and three of our girls had never played. But we scored with five minutes left in the game to win 1-0. I was really proud of the girls,” Kent said.

Three weeks later, they won at Perry Hall 3-1 in anther game on turf. Afterward, that particular surface presented no difficulty for the girls from Carroll County.


Besides their athleticism, this year’s girls had another winning attribute, the ability to score goals.

“We typically have had a solid defensive team, but some girls simply aren’t offensive-minded. However this year, we had a lot of girls who were aggressive and could finish. This is by far the highest-scoring team I’ve ever had,” Kent said.

Central Carroll finished 7-0 with six shutouts in the regular season, outscoring their opponents 40-1.

With her daughter Jessica moving on to Westminster High School next fall, Kent said she will quit coaching for the time being and be a sideline parent for a time.

Things continued in the postseason tournament, played Oct. 27-28 in Columbia’s Blandair Park, with 16 teams in the hunt.

The Warriors dominated the pool play phase.


They beat Towsontowne, Catonsville, and the (Howard County) Warhawks by scores of 4-0, 5-0, and 6-0.

Central Carroll then topped Perry Hall 5-1 in the semifinal.

The championship game was its toughest test of the playoffs.

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They Warriors faced Essex-Sparrows Point. The two never met during the season, although the Baltimore County squad had beaten Central Carroll’s other 7th-8th grade team.

The Warriors scored about five minutes into the game. But ESP tied it soon afterward and then went up. Down 2-1 at halftime, Kent said she told her troops not to despair.

“I said [the ESP players] had pretty good stick skills, but we were better athletes. So let’s get down and do it,” the coach said.


Her girls did exactly that, outscoring ESP 3-0 after intermission to win 4-2. Kent felt her team speed might have worn down its opponent in the second half.

Central Carroll had 24 goals and 11 assists in the postseason.

The top playoffs scorers were Jessica Kent with 10 goals and three assists, Grace Adkins with four goals, and Abby Kuhlmann and Naomi Whitlow with three goals and an assist apiece. Annie Pruitt dished out five assists.

“[It was] such a blessing to coach such a great group of girls for so many years and end with a championship. I look forward to watching these girls play in high school,” Kent wrote in an email. “It was nice to win that championship on the last go-round.”